Craig Counsell confirmed in a radio interview on 105.7 FM in Milwaukee that Aaron Wilkerson would be joining the Milwaukee Brewers this weekend, so it came as no surprise when the team announced that they had officially purchased his contract earlier this afternoon. The corresponding move to clear a spot on the 40 man roster, however, wasn’t the obvious one:
Wilkerson, 28, came to Milwaukee last summer as a part of the Aaron Hill trade with Boston. He got a late start to his career after undergoing Tommy John surgery while pitching collegiately at Cumberland University, pitching in the independent leagues in 2013-14 after a stint as a department manager at a grocery store in his hometown. He was pitching with the Grand Prairie AirHogs when Boston signed the right hander to a minor league deal. Four seasons later he has found his way to the big leagues.
Wilkerson owns a 3.16 ERA across 476.0 minor league innings, striking out 9.2 batters per inning against 2.4 BB/9. He spent this season with AA Biloxi, tossing 142.1 innings with a 3.16 ERA and sparkling 2.32 DRA. That translates to a DRA- of 57, or 43% better than the league average AA pitcher. He struck out 143 batters while walking only 36 and holding opponents to .223 batting average. He also made a start in the AAA playoffs for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, tossing 7.0 hitless innings with 11 punchouts.
Wilkerson won’t start tonight, but his new manager did say during yesterday’s interview that he could be a candidate to take a turn the next time through the rotation.
Rather than place Jimmy Nelson, who is out for the rest of the season with a labrum tear, on the 60 day disabled list, the Milwaukee Brewers elected to remove infielder Yadiel Rivera from their 40 man roster. Rivera was once a top-30 prospect in a weaker minor league system than the one the Brewers currently possess, and he has seen big league action in each of the last three seasons. He has collected only 88 plate appearances in 43 games, batting a meager .183/.202/.232 with no homers and a 28.4% strikeout rate. The results at the plate for Rivera haven’t been much better in the minor leagues historically, either, including just a .218/.282/.314 slash this season in 414 plate appearances while playing in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Rivera is a defensive wizard across the infield, but he will be out of options next spring and was unlikely to last all winter on the 40 man roster. Perhaps the early DFA of the 25 year old is to give him a chance to hook on with another team as a September call-up defensive replacement type guy this month.
The Brewers also announced another roster move:
RHP Jimmy Nelson (right shoulder strain) has been placed on the 10-day disabled list.— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) September 15, 2017
Given the nature of expanded September rosters, the placing of Jimmy on the 10-day DL essentially amounts to a paper transaction. It seems a little odd, causing Adam McCalvy to speculate:
Maybe for arbitration purposes, so there's a record of him going on the DL?— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) September 15, 2017
(And yes, I am talking to myself now.)
Though he would later add:
My understanding is Wilkerson would not be PS-eligible had they put Nelson on 60 & used that spot. (Yes, I'm contradicting my earlier Tweet) https://t.co/1rQb9m5vqf— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) September 15, 2017
Yes, the bottom line is Wilkerson is postseason-eligible should the Brewers get that far. https://t.co/PTkjfTAnzl— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) September 15, 2017
So, that’s cool.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus